Warning: strong feelings ahead.
I attended a birth several months ago where a nurse made an offhanded remark that still gets me all fired up (it's not the first and it won't be the last).
During a particularly difficult moment in the process the nurse walks in, proceeds to clomp around the room fussing with machines and monitors. Upon noticing the events unfolding instead of offering some encouragement or assurance she said "I don't know why we romanticize birth, this. is. not. romantic".
I could honestly spend hours talking about why I disagree with this statement and why I was so upset by her comment. In the moment, I couldn't let myself get carried away, I had to stay present and focused on my clients. I reminded her she was doing a great job and this was all normal.
I came home and gave it some serious thought. Every once in a while, I find the memory popping back up.
First of all, this comment was so UNHELPFUL, UNSUPPORTIVE AND UNNECESSARY. The last thing someone needs when they are having a hard time is someone invalidating what they are doing and gaslighting them. She may as well have said you are fine, shut up and stop making such a fuss.
The second reason this bothered me is that it was just an untrue statement.
Birthing days are some of the most romantic things I have seen. Maybe not in the traditional sense, but it has all the elements of those the love stories that stand the test of time.
Think about it. What are the stories that move us, that we root for, the stories that sweep us off our feet? Is it the stories that are predictable, effortless, neat and follow a very prescribed timeline? No. These are not the stories that get told over and over again. Real, lasting love takes some time and effort. But we do it because the rewards are great.
Birth is romantic because it is something we work for
It is a hard thing we do out of love for another person. It requires patience. Sometimes it's unpredictable there's things that are out of our control. Sometimes we face a lot of obstacles. It's messy. Maybe the pregnancy was very challenging, maybe becoming pregnant was very challenging, maybe the birth was more work than we anticipated. Maybe we had to make hard choices, maybe there were moments we doubted ourselves and wanted out. Maybe this is a story of adoption or surrogacy where hard choices are made from a position of love.
I have nothing but respect for all of the nurses out there. They have a very difficult and technical job. They are in charge of monitoring, charting and cleaning. They have multiple patients to care for at once. The hours are long and challenging. Maybe what that nurse meant to say is "this is not romantic for me." Sure, from point of view, it's not a romantic event. It's not her baby being born. She won't have a lifelong relationship with this child. She doesn't have an attachment to the support person.
Now before the healthcare workers get upset at me, I've worked alongside so many wonderful kind, empathetic and helpful nurses. But occasionally I hear some things that just feel very unnecessary and make my eye twitch.
If you haven't heard it before, I'm here to give you permission to believe that your birthing is worthy of all of the same attention and care that we give to other meaningful days. Your day may have some twists and turns but in the end, it is story of love.
Two people supporting each other and going through big, hard feelings together
Facing difficult moments but not giving up because it's worth it.
A partner tenderly observing and encouraging
A birthing person loving and trusting their body
Watching two people become parents
Marveling with wonder and awe at the power of bringing life into the world
Falling in love with your baby
Falling more in love with each other seeing your family grow
Conclusion: Birth is Romantic. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise.